EPA Reacts to Leaked Draft about Chemical Library’s Future

EPA Reacts to Leaked Draft about Chemical Library’s Future

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency officials have refuted a report that the agency would not be reopening its specialized Chemical Library at its Washington, D.C., headquarters. EPA’s Headquarters Library and the adjacent Office of Prevention, Pollution, and Toxic Substances (OPPTS) Library, specializing in the health effects of chemicals and pesticides, were among a number of libraries that the agency closed in 2006 as part of a cost-cutting plan imposed by President Bush. However, last December Congress passed a measure earmarking $3 million for the reinstatement of the agency’s libraries.

Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility posted a document on its website that had been submitted by Emma McNamara, director of the EPA’s Information Access Division, proposing space requirements, staffing levels, and other specifications for the reopened facility. The document proposed that the library would total just 150 square feet, with a portion devoted to a Chemical Collection totaling 18 linear feet. This Chemical Collection would not have a librarian assigned to it, although the Headquarters Library would have one librarian and one library technician; the original OPPTS Library had three librarians and two technical staff.

In response to PEER’s press release announcing the posted document and slamming the agency’s plans, the EPA sent a statement to ALA’s Washington Office indicating that “The Chemical Library is expected to cover nearly 2,500 square feet. This is in addition to the planned 4,500 square feet and 4.5 full-time professional librarians and library technicians for the adjacent HQ repository library.”

Rick Martin, deputy director of EPA’s Office of Information Analysis and Access, toldAmerican Libraries that the document posted by PEER was an early draft of the library planning template that was quickly superseded. “The person drafting this was focused on a small portion of the reading room that would have to be reconfigured to accommodate the new core collection,” said Martin. “After review by the library program manager, subsequent documents reflect the total space, which is at least 2,500 square feet.” He added that the collection of the Headquarters and Chemical libraries is expected to cover 3,690 linear feet.

Martin indicated that all the figures are tentative, pending the outcome of negotiations with the American Federation of Government Employees that began June 17 over the reopening of the libraries. In a Report to Congress submitted March 26, the EPA committed to reopening the headquarters and regional libraries by September 30.

Posted on June 24, 2008. Discuss.